Has Taj Mahotsav promoted tourism in Agra?

Has Taj Mahotsav promoted tourism in Agra?
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Has Taj Mahotsav promoted tourism in Agra?

Highlights

The hospitality industry captains in Agra are neither excited nor creatively involved in the ten day-long annual cultural extravaganza, 'Taj Mahotsav' that opened at the Shilpgram complex, 500 metres from the Taj Mahal, a week ago.

Agra: The hospitality industry captains in Agra are neither excited nor creatively involved in the ten day-long annual cultural extravaganza, 'Taj Mahotsav' that opened at the Shilpgram complex, 500 metres from the Taj Mahal, a week ago.

The tourism industry feels the Mahotsav has had no impact on tourism promotion, though it was started in 1992, with the specific objective of attracting foreign and domestic visitors.

Over the years, the Taj Mahotsav has been reduced to a local fair or a 'Tamasha', say the hoteliers. Though the number of local visitors has gone up, the failure to attract foreign tourists, call for reviewing the character of the fair, as also the timings, say the hoteliers.

Some tourism industry leaders here say the original objectives for organising this fair have not been fulfilled. "It has got too much localised and seems like some kind of an extended village Haat," they say.

It has been reduced to a local 'mela-tamasha' (fun fair) and in no way has helped promote tourism in the city, industry stakeholders say.

The fair lacks a distinct appeal and thrust areas that could interest foreign visitors. Hoteliers say the tourists fail to get a glimpse of the splendour and opulence of the Mughal era. A hotelier said: "Year after year you cannot go on repeating the same old features. The cultural richness of Braj Bhoomi and the Mughal era should be creatively presented and the local artists should be given an opportunity to showcase their talents.

"It should not remain a government show managed by indifferent bureaucrats. The industry too should share some responsibility," he added.

The number of foreign tourists has been falling each year and the local ambience is hardly "tourist-friendly", said a senior tourism industry leader. He said there was a clear "disconnect" between the government policies, perceptions and the requirements of the tourism industry. Clearly there is a lack of planning and of understanding the dynamics of the tourism industry. Though the number of visitors to the Taj Mahotsav has been going up, the failure of the organisers to attract foreign tourists calls for a thorough review of strategies and efforts."

The fair was opened a week ago by Durga Shankar Mishra, chief secretary, Uttar Pradesh government. The Mahotsav is usually held from February 18 to 28. But this year, due to the elections and the Covid protocol, it had to be postponed by a month. The annual board and university examinations have affected attendance. The unusually warm weather has also proved a dampner, say the stall owners at the sprawling Shilpgram complex.

Programmes are also being held at the Soor Sadan auditorium. Late evening events featuring popular singers, comedians and actors are drawing hordes of people, but response to classical dances or recitals has so fare remained lukewarm. The stall owners hoped that in the coming days, their sales would pick up, so that the expenses would at least be met.

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